|Here I am breastfeeding in the classic, “cradle hold”.
I will never forget the pain and exhaustion I felt when I had mastitis. My middle boy was born one month early and although he latched on no problem, he would tire quickly and I would be left with an extremely engorged breast. I had never had mastitis before but I knew what I needed to do along with encouraging him to breastfeed for longer. I breastfed him in different positions to try to drain my breast as well as I could in a short period of time. By pointing his chin towards the blocked part of my breast, I was able to better drain the area. The classic, “cradle-hold” (which many of us breastfeeding mums use most often) just did not work for me in this situation because I needed his chin pointing towards my armpit. By breastfeeding in different positions I was able to heal very quickly and the infection was only there for about twenty four hours. By knowing and trying some different breastfeeding positions mums may find that breastfeeding challenges can be fixed or prevented from happening at all!I have made a poster which I included at the bottom of this post which shows some of the different positions available for breastfeeding. Some mums and babies will love a position and others will hate it! It just depends. For instance my first two boys LOVED breastfeeding lying down. My youngest refuses to do it! Also, some mums might find breastfeeding in the football hold awkward while others will find it easier, especially in the early months or mothers of twins.
It’s important to note that regardless of the position, babies tend to breastfeed best when their chest is against your body (so their bodies and heads are not twisted) and you bring your baby to your breast, not you leaning towards them crouched over your baby…if you do this your back will give out after awhile!
Some examples of why a mum might want to try different breastfeeding positions:
The mum with mastitis or a blocked duct– As I mentioned earlier, being able to breastfeed with your baby’s mouth pointed in different directions on your breast will speed up the draining process. Some mums will actually get on all fours with their babies under them and breastfeed like a cow! Crazy visual picture I know, but sometimes it really works well for getting their chin in the right direction.
The baby with a tongue tie
– Sometimes the classic cradle hold just does not work with a baby who has a tongue tie or a variation in the shape of their palate. Since babies with tongue tie often have a difficult time latching because they have a hard time getting their tongues out far enough, sometimes just changing where their mouth is placed and what position their heads are in will be enough to get a good enough latch for effective milk removal and leave the mother without pain. The picture of me doing the, “laid-back breastfeeding” position can be a great one for this scenario as it encourages the babies natural abilities and instincts to breastfeed and latch on.Too much milk!-
As a new mum I remember sitting in the salon getting my hair done talking about my baby and his gulping and sputtering at the breast. The woman next to me mentioned I should try to breastfeed while lying down on my back. She said my milk would go against gravity so would not come out as forcefully. The next time I breastfed I got into this position (it is a bit like, “laid-back breastfeeding” but even more of a lying back position). I was amazed! It worked! I subsequently had to do this for my following kids as well because I am a milk making machine! This combined with, “block feeding” got my supply under control and my babies could breastfeed without a near drowning experience! For more information on block feeding and over supply, head over to my post about babies who Spit-up frequently.
Inverted nipples- Sometimes a mum with inverted nipples will find that her baby can latch on easier just by getting into a different position.
Mothers who have had cesarean births- With a new scar and sometimes in lots of pain, women who breastfeed after a cesarean might not want their baby right up against their stomachs. This is where the side lying position or football hold can be great alternatives.
The mum on the go! This is me! As a mum to three very active boys I am always on the go. Shopping, cleaning, cooking, school pick up, visiting a breastfeeding mum etc. etc. I have to breastfeed wherever I go and often on the move. A baby carrier is great for this. I have included two pictures on this poster of my son breastfeeding on the go in my baby carrier. He loved it so much he fell asleep, and I got all of my shopping done at the same time!
Breastfeeding through the night- Nighttime breastfeeding can be very challenging! I have experienced sleep deprivation because of it so I feel your pain if you have a frequent night owl breastfeeder. The side lying position SAVED me from insanity with my first two boys. I could roll over, latch my baby on while lying down and go back to sleep! The best! Of course my baby number three refuses to do this…I think he is teaching me a lesson in patience!!! I feed him during the night in the, “laid back breastfeeding” position (see poster below) with pillows behind my back and head.
The baby who does not want to breastfeed- There are various reasons a mum will need to help encourage her baby to breastfeed: a nursing strike, an adopted baby, re-lactation after a temporary weaning due to illness/medications etc. and many other reasons. By changing positions a baby might be more likely to take the breast. My son is a great example of this. If he went on a nursing strike and I tried to get him back on with the side lying position there is NO WAY he would latch on!
When in doubt always try the, “laid-back nursing” position. This allows for the most relaxing and cozy skin-to-skin position and can be so effective in getting your baby to be interested in the breast and self-attach without needing much help at all. Click here for information and a video on this position…
*Some babies prefer a particular position (or breast) for no obvious reason. They just like it! Do what feels right for you and your baby.
*If you would like more information about breastfeeding or have some questions, please CONTACT ME.
I am available for consultations in person if you live on the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane. I am also available via Skype if you live elsewhere.